Quote of the Week
“I’ve been close before, and I was remembering that today. I’ve been riding up to that arena all week, looking at that wall [of winners], saying that I want to put my name up there…”
—U.S. Olympic showjumper Kent Farrington on finally adding that elusive, Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen feather to his cap. Nobody puts Kent in a corner.
Farrington & Gazelle Best the Big Guns at Aachen
It’s one of the most storied events in equestrian sport, and Sunday, the €1 million Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen didn’t disappoint.
Catch Me Up
The stands were packed and after two, preliminary rounds of 1.60+ competition, the stage was set for an epic jump-off among the sport’s top horses and riders. On the startlist with a zero score: Jérôme Guery (BEL) & Quel Homme de Hus; Darragh Kenny (IRL) & Babalou 41; McLain Ward (USA) & HH Azur; Ben Maher (GBR) & Explosion W; Kent Farrington (USA) & Gazelle; and hometown hopefuls Simone Blum (GER) & DSP Alice and Daniel Deusser (GER) & Tobago Z.
Who were the favorites?
Known for his big, swooping S-tracks in jump-offs that span the grand prix field, Course Designer Frank Rothenberger’s Aachen finale looked poised to benefit large, galloping horses with super-sized scope and stride—and this particular competition boasted three of the best in the world. It was the Avengers-style lineup we’ve been waiting for—HH Azur, DSP Alice, and Explosion W—and while any rider that tells you they feel confident with Kent Farrington coming behind them in a jump-off has been sampling the punch, in this particular field, Robin Parsky’s 13-year-old Belgian mare, Gazelle, wasn’t the assumed front-runner.
Show jumping being show jumping, however, the jump-off went off with several hitches—and a result nobody saw coming. Ward, Blum, Maher and their super-freak horses all knocked rails, leaving the field open for Kenny & Babalou 41 to jump clear and take the lead. When next-to-go Farrington chose a slightly outside track around the lake, the crowd thought he’d lost for sure. But again, show jumping being show jumping, Farrington’s time of 43.98 would somehow prove too quick to beat, even for a hot-on-his-heels Deusser, who jumped last and clear on a time of 44.35.
Considered the crown jewel of show jumping victories, the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen has been a life-long goal for Farrington, who will finally add his name to that coveted wall. Now once again the front-runner in the Rolex Grand Slam (he previously won the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva with Gazelle in 2017), Farrington has the next Rolex Major in the series in his sights at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament in September.
Spruce Meadows is familiar turf for the 38-year-old rider, who’s been stationed there since May of this year, taking home big CSI5* wins with both Creedance and Jasper already this season. Since breaking his leg and being sidelined from the sport in February 2018, the former World #1 has been working hard to make up ground in the rankings and on the international stage. Could a Rolex Grand Slam run be in Farrington’s future? Only time will tell.
If You Can Only Watch One Round...
Watch Isabell Werth Win Aachen AGAIN On Her 50th Birthday
Somebody get this lady a dunkel! Dressage’s World #1, #2, and undisputed queen of the ring, Germany’s Isabell Werth, was at it again this weekend—on her 50th birthday, no less—winning the World Equestrian Festival CDIO5* Grand Prix Freestyle at CHIO Aachen with Bella Rose on a score of 90.450%. Naturally, the score was high enough for Werth to also join an illustrious group of six riders (including herself on Weihegold OLD, natch) to earn above 90% in the Grand Prix Freestyle. You can watch her make history here.
PonyApp Pro-Tips: Ask the Shipper
“My Young Horse Has Become Difficult to Load”
In our new series, we're tapping the experts at Brook Ledge Horse Transportation to get the answers to your real-life shipping questions. In this month’s edition, Andrea Gotwals Boone offers advice to a reader whose young horse has become tricky to load (hint: bring the carrots!). Read on.
The Week's Big Controversy
Henrik von Eckermann Withdraws from the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen
He was in the hunt for a €250.000 Rolex Grand Slam bonus, but this week, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann announced that he was withdrawing his top mare, Toveks Mary Lou, from the Rolex Grand Prix after her impressive, double-clear performance helped to clinch the win for Sweden in the Nations Cup of CHIO Aachen on Thursday. After a swarm of recent headlines (including our own) discussing the use and over-use of horses in competition, von Eckermann was clear about his reasoning. “In the Nations Cup, she fought for me like I never felt before… My immediate gut feeling coming out of the ring was that those two rounds were enough for this weekend,” von Eckermann said.
This Just In...
Germany’s Ingrid Klimke Sets a New Eventing Record at Aachen
The third time was the charm for Germany’s Ingrid Klimke, who earned a spot in the record books this week when she became the first rider to win the eventing competition at CHIO Aachen three times: in 2015 with SAP Escada, and in 2017 and 2019 with SAP Hale Bob OLD. Klimke had a rail in show jumping but made up for it on cross-country and dressage, where she led off with an astounding 20.70 score. “We had so much fun out there," Klimke said. "He’s so smart, and so clever, and he was so full of himself in the warm-up so we could really go out running.”
Watch Beezie Jump Around the CHIO Aachen Nations Cup, Courtesy of John Madden
Not everyone was lucky enough to catch the CHIO Aachen Nations Cup in person, and one of those people was the illustrious John Madden. Thankfully, John, himself, took up the camera to film the livestream of Beezie & Darry Lou’s round—while providing us with some fantastic, teeth-gritted commentary and half-halt mimicking hand motions to boot.